A New Year, a New Attitude

2009 is gone, thankfully. For most of us business-wise, last year was no picnic and, except for hopefully some great personal or family memories, we bid it goodbye, and good riddance.

What about 2010? What endearing prospects do we have and what will those of us in the electrical industry take away in moving towards 2011 over the next 12 months?

All we can hope is that we have the right people on our team to move us forward. Without this key group, it will continue to be an uphill battle. Sure, some companies will be pushed over the edge; and this includes not only distributors, but reps, manufacturers, and contractors. No segment of our industry is immune.

What can be done to turn things around? I believe that a change in attitude is clearly the first major step. This attitude adjustment goes for everyone, from management to all employees.

We’ve all heard about the Power of Positive Thinking, and it really works. We’ve all been in situations where one person can either bring everyone down or bring everyone up in excitement. It doesn’t take a highly paid motivational speaker to do that; it can be virtually anyone-anyone who wants to step up.

Winston Churchill said it best when he stated that “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” It’s all about the approach to a situation. That situation can be an everyday worry about the lack of business, or it could be internal strife within the organization, home issues, or things outside of our immediate control
(government issues, etc.).

It is up to us to determine how we approach these challenges. For a Manager, your employees don’t want to continue to see and hear about the ‘doom and gloom’ everyday. They’ve heard it for the past year and it’s got to be pretty much old news by now. What about a new approach that gives everyone (cautious) hope about the New Year? Letting employees in on a new plan for increasing sales, more training opportunities, adding headcount, or whatever is considered ‘good news’ in your company. Optimism is catching-you will see an improvement almost immediately once your attitude changes, people see realistic goals and you provide the means to attain them.

If you are one of the thousands of people who aren’t managers, then you also need to make a commitment this year to increase your enthusiasm level or maintain that level if you didn’t allow things to affect you in the workplace. Positive attitudes can also be catching by your coworkers with simple words and actions. You don’t need to bring in a guitar and play songs for the team, but encouraging and optimistic comments, both business and personal, can go a long way to increase morale.

Nowadays, no one is immune from layoffs. Most companies are bare-bones now and are making their businesses work with the crews that they have. Distributors are running skeleton crews, manufacturers and reps both have cut headcounts and are expecting their salespeople to maintain sales in territories normally meant for two or three salespeople. Those in our industry fortunate enough to have good jobs, with decent pay and benefits, are truly thankful for what they have. But they all want security. That security partially comes from the attitude of the company and its representatives.

They say (I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but) 2011 is the year for major changes in the electrical wholesale industry. Projects will be approved, proposals will have been bid, jobs will be awarded, submittals will have been approved, products will be ordered, big dollar items will be delivered, parts will be installed and invoices will get paid. Then we move on to the next one and the next;
just like before. A lot has to happen before we get there, but once we change our mindset, and looks towards those opportunities for excellence, in 12 months when we look back, let’s hope that we made the right choices.

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